Hello, my name's Thommy. I wanted to share with you my journey so far, in the hope that someone considering making a dramatic life change and investigating the inner workings of themselves may get some confidence that it is a path worth pursuing.
Having recently discovered this website and the work of Chris & Trinity, I am highly impressed at the eloquence and focus of this information - it's a breath of fresh air amongst the confusing and highly subjective new-age culture which seems to revel in taking lost souls for a ride and then relieving them of their money.
I ordered the 5 gateways book, and shortly after it landed on the doormat was sat down reading it from cover to cover - marvelling at how some of the ideas I have had about life's journey were expressed in a much more clear and concise manner than I could hope to write myself. It was also great to get the perspective of Chris' milestones on his own journey intertwined amongst the more factual content.
I am not totally new to spiritual practice, having been involved with Reiki for close to 10 years now and also Buddhist meditation since January 2011 however something happened once I hit 30 which has been unveiling aspects of our existence which had hitherto remained unaccessible.
I should be more specific: Nothing happened once I hit 30, and that was the problem. All through my 20's I felt like I was working towards something, like I was waiting for everything to fall into place and for me to be OK with the world. I followed my dreams in the hope that they would take me to somewhere that I could rest, but it wasn't to be.
By the age of 24 I had a successful IT business with a number of local clients, enough money to do whatever I fancied and a busy and exciting lifestyle. My passion in life had been music, and I was a talented DJ. By 26 I could see no future in fixing computers so I moved to Manchester to study music production and realise my dream of being a studio engineer. During this time the DJ thing took off and by 2008 I found myself regularly jetting off to Europe, the Middle East, Russia to perform my work to sizeable crowds. I had started a record label, and developed software and hardware to do cutting edge audio-visual performance, something I displayed to 8000 members of the public at the 'Creamfields' festival, a major feature in the 2009 dance-music diary. I also had music featured on TV, had mixed soundtracks for films, recorded albums for bands and ticked a lot of the boxes on my 'happiness checklist'.
By 29, having completed my degree and had my fill of city life I moved back to the South West hoping that I would continue with my media work. Within a few months I had become settled with a part time job to pay the rent, a steadily building group of friends and a cultural scene that could keep me captivated for most of the time.
At this point I could honestly say that I was happy. Things were going OK, really OK for the first time in a while and I had plenty of potential to look forward to, it was still a struggle but things looked promising - there were enough distractions and they seemed to be rewarding me. It was approaching Christmas and for the first time since being a kid I was really looking forward to the festive season. I was in such a good place that in early December I sought out my Reiki Master for that final attunement. It was the day after my Reiki 3 attunement that things suddenly took a left-turn.
There was a noise downstairs that morning, I thought it was one of my housemates going to work so thought nothing of it. When it came for my turn to leave the house I discovered that instead we had been burgled as I noticed my rucksack was gone, which had contained my laptop - a top of the range apple macbook with 4 years of research, content, photographs, etc etc etc - the sum total of years of toil and my whole future career. In an instant everything was turned on it's head. 'Where was the backup?' I hear you ask. Well, that week I had organised, purged, and streamlined all of my data pulling everything of significance from my various computers and storage devices onto the laptop, awaiting the arrival of a super duper high speed network linked backup drive thingy. I get to work sans laptop, shocked, gutted, confused, lost and find a parcel on my desk containing that drive. I felt sick. I couldn't do anything, everything that I did, everything which defined me, had just walked out of my front door.
THIS COULD WELL HAVE BEEN THE MOST SIGNIFICANT DAY OF MY LIFE.
With the carpet suddenly swept out from under me I realised that who I thought I was, actually was nothing more than the sum total of what I had done and what I had scheduled in the diary. I was left with nothing to distract me and so I started to feel what was going on inside. You can probably guess what it is that I felt. A numbness, a sadness, an emptiness. Years of partying and being the cool guy had left me with a very poorly organised energy system and I had never taken the time to look at it let alone take responsibility for most of my actions. All of my energy was up in my head which had been great whilst pursuing intellectual challenges but dangerous once I had nothing left to focus on.
I had always distracted myself from the pain by keeping busy, soft drugs or looking forward to my next chance to shine on stage. By now I had nothing left to distract me but the drugs. I blamed everything I could for the loss of that laptop, but after a few days and with the help of the new Reiki energy floating around me I tried to put it into perspective and not let it eat me up - I had enough problems with the world and couldn't handle another one. Little did I know that this little bit of acceptance was the start of something amazing, for the first time I had stopped identifying with the situation which caused the pain, but only because the shock was so great and unexpected.
6 weeks later I found myself at a silent meditation retreat. I had gone there because I really needed 7 days off from the world to think about all of my problems. Christmas had come and gone, along with all the distractions of the festive season. I had done well to keep myself from identifying with the pain but coming back to the cold harsh reality of winter in the UK with no 'projects' to keep me going was too much. Both of my parents were out of the country for the winter and I was feeling very lost.
At the retreat I got my first introduction to universal truth. I had no idea what meditation was, and wasn't looking for spiritual teachings - I was a Reiki Master, I knew it all already. Haha. Luckily it was local to my house. The first few days were very tough - I struggled with concentration, keeping my back straight, the vegetarian food, the other attendees, not to mention the contents of my body - and I kept telling myself that I would leave in an hour, or after lunch, or the next morning. Whatever. Miraculously I stayed the length of the course, and along the way got my first taste of real healing - that of acceptance of what is and the courage to face it with equanimity. The ensuing 18 months have been nothing short of revelatory, taking me from that retreat in Ross on Wye to the mountains of Indonesia and temples of Thailand, and now back to my home on a very different wavelength.
I realised that I was onto something, and by May 2011 I had played my last live show and let go of a large chunk of aspirations. All that summer I let go of aspects of myself that I had realised weren't helpful. It was a hard, painful and lonely time as I began the transition. For a time I replaced them with new ideas about who I thought I might become, and whilst I see the error in that now, it acted as a bridge between two worlds, between two ways of being. The old mindset wasn't interested in helping the body as it didn't accept responsibilty, but the new one was.
The healing that I have received as a result of feeling the stillness around me and using my awareness and concentration to remain anchored in the present moment could be considered nothing short of a miracle. I have sat and wept as layer after layer of emotional confusion have peeled away revealing a sense of vitality I never thought possible.
In Bali I sat for hours at a time in silence and isolation, feeling the sickness in my body, feeling the pulsing and spinning knots of energy. I befriended a local healer who was able to tell me the condition of my chakras, and he was impressed at the progress I had made between each visit. He eventually asked me to come back to the island and manage his mountain retreat centre, where he would teach me how to heal using plants, crystals and the mind. This was very tempting but I felt there was more to be gained than the accolade of labelling myself as a healer. Besides by this point I could also feel what was going on inside other people's bodies as my concentration had developed considerably. In all I had done 6 weeks of meditation on an 8 week visa, left Bali feeling like I was 5 years younger and was looking forward to a couple of months chilling around south east Asia before heading home triumphantly. I had arranged to visit one Buddhist monastery in the north of Thailand and I was expecting them to congratulate me on my concentration and teach me more about the buddhist path. However, this was not how my experience unfolded!
In Chiang Mai I practiced mindfulness. The constant unbroken awareness of events occurring in the present moment - sounds, feelings, thoughts, the motion of my abdomen - anything that registered in the mind. This was tough as the only instruction was to acknowledge and let go everything that came along. I would sit for an hour labelling everything, in, hearing, feeling, thinking, out, thinking, thinking etc. then I would walk for an hour; bending, lifting, moving, lowering, touching, putting, acknowledging every movement of the foot with pauses every time i had a thought or heard a sound.
I tried hard for 19 days, 17 hours a day, at a technique famed for it's difficulty. It was like putting the ego on trial - not indulging it in any way whatsoever. Some days were better than others, I was happy, sad, sometimes angry, but most of all very frustrated at the total lack of indulgence in any of my questions. I kept going, disappointed that I hadn't got what I was expecting, but somehow trusting the teachers and their mysterious ways.
On the 16th night something amazing happened, my mind stopped completely for about 12 hours. There were no thoughts, the watcher in me was looking for them but they just weren't arising. I had my first experience of the enlightened state - no opinions or judgements, just pure awareness and a cool breeze blowing through my head. Actually it was my second, but the first one in Bali passed me by without my realising it's significance.
The next day I reported to the teacher that I hadn't meditated, because there was nothing to push against. 'It's all gone quiet inside" I said. "Good" came the reply, "you've made the subtle realisation of annica, dukkha and anatta (impermanence, suffering and no-self). Continue your meditation." I did as instructed, and sure enough soon the thoughts came back and the mind was once again taking over.
Another 2 days went by with me battling the surging waves of mental chatter, and all along I was also battling the pain in my body - dealing with it by placing my awareness inside the pain and feeling its constantly changing flows of subtle energy. I would sit for half an hour just getting inside the pain, then switch to trying to be mindful of my surroundings. I wanted to adhere as best I could to this strange teaching but also wanted to heal myself so I was torn between the two disciplines. The walking had been playing havoc with my hip, and my right foot was a ball of tension being strained every time I put my full weight onto the tiled floor of my small meditation hut.
I had been told that morning that I had reached the final day of the course and so I pulled out all the stops and really pushed myself hard. By 7 in the evening I had pushed out enough of the pain that I could sit and focus my mindfulness and so went back to the labelling of everything in my consciousness. Shortly after that another amazing thing happened. There was an explosion of warm energy right at the base of my spine. It was extremely intense and slowly worked it's way upwards visiting each chakra in turn and seemingly blowing them wide open. The body felt like it had gone into purge mode, tension was flowing out from deep inside me. There were sharp pains, flutterings, whooshes, popping sounds, you name it. It went up and up until it reached the centre of my head and it became really painful. Something at the top of my head had also opened and it seemed like the energy from above and below had met. I knew as the energy started to rise that this was a kundalini awakening, something I had read about once years ago in one of my Reiki books. I did my best to remain totally present and focused while this was going on, sitting upright for 6 hours in total allowing this coursing and flowing energy to purge my body of what seemed like all of my sickness. Exhausted, at 2am I lay down to sleep. The sensations hadn't stopped but I just couldn't stay up any longer.
The next day I seemed to be entirely made of light. My rucksack weighed nothing, and I felt like I had been given a new body. My experience of the world was pristine and it stayed this was for several days until the feeling gradually subsided. However, it never did subside totally, 5 months down the line I feel at least 10 years younger than when I left England last year. My body is more flexible, skin more healthy, mind sharper, reactions calmer and more objective, you name it. And all from largely sitting still and just accepting whatever came into my awareness.
I stayed in Thailand for 3 months in total, and did 3 more retreats practicing this mindfulness technique - totally writing off my plan to tour around Asia. Whilst none of those experiences were as powerful as the first, they each had their own set of results which were undeniable with the result of either losing or gaining an aspect to my personality. I let go of a lot of pride, a lot of delusion about how I thought the world be, and gained deeper inner peace and equanimity toward events in my past. I left Bali wanting to be a healer, but left Thailand with a deep understanding that healing comes from the acceptance of what is, not out of any desire to change things and so I know that I still have some way to go before my own healing is complete..
On my return to the UK I have found myself in a different world. I can honestly say that I don't have any ambitions and desires left in me other than to continue this journey and expose more of who I truly am. I have no fear of anything, as I know now from direct experience that everything which happens comes in timely fashion, giving us the opportunity to evolve a little further. I don't find myself worrying about tomorrow, let alone next month or next year. I am calm, very calm, even though at the minute I'm living with parents, have no job and seemingly nothing to look forward to. I have played a few DJ sets for fun at private parties and thoroughly enjoyed myself, but the days of me profiting from the intoxication of others are well and truly over.
My attitude to healing has changed too. I realise now that the tensions in our mind become problems in the body over time, so rather than trying to force the sickness out I now am working to restore my natural balance by understanding the emotional causes of a physical problem and trying to be ok with that, exactly as it is. I understand that I have problems purely because of my actions and choices in the past. Accepting what has been is really the least I can do, and the results have been remarkable so far.
I hope that by getting involved with the Openhand work, this process that I am going through will run it's course in years rather than lifetimes and release me to be of service to anybody and everybody, whether they are going through an awakening themselves or just need a bit of help.
Thanks for reading!